6/18/10

The shakedown and the apology

Almost everyone has their panties in a twist over Joe Barton's apology to Tony Hayward for Obama's shakedown of BP.

Well.

I don't think Barton should have 'apologized' to Hayward; after all, BP has screwed the pooch so badly that I don't think they'll ever be able to dig their way out of it. If I had any BP stock, I would have dumped it long ago. Hayward certainly did not do BP any real favors by appearing to be the most oblivious excuse for a CEO in the history of corporations. I'm not sure he is even aware at this point that he is the CEO, or that that company is British Petroleum.

The problem with listening to lawyers is that when you do, you have to essentially admit to being completely oblivious and completely brainless when you 'testify'.

But back to the shakedown.

I don't have any problem at all with that term. Because that's what it was. A good ol' Chikaga-style shakedown. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in the room where the arm-twisting took place.

Too bad Obama didn't do it with Chrysler and GM and SEIU and the United Auto Workers. And the teachers' unions.

Nope. In those cases, it was fine for We the Taxpayer to take that hit. After all, the UAW and SEIU are voters. Democrats for the most part.

But in the case of BP ... well. Did you know that part of the shakedown included the detail that BP will not pay any dividends this year? To its shareholders? Can you imagine what would have happened had Obama done that with Chrysler and GM, rather than having We the Taxpayers bail out his voter pool in the unions?

BP's dividends are a big chunk of pensions - 17%- in Great Britain. That means a whole bunch of British pensioners are going to take it in the shorts. But they don't vote Over Here. They aren't Democrats. Can you imagine how The Vote would have been affected had Obama's bailout of GM and Chrysler included cutting UAW pensions by 17%?

About half of BP's shareholders are reportedly here in the US. It really isn't all that British a British company, despite the political spin Obama and his cronies are putting on it. But the pensioning arrangements are a bit different on this side of the pond. I'd love to see some demographics, political demographics, on BP shareholders. Do they tend to be Republicans over here?

Let me be perfectly clear (I love that line. Obama ain't the only one who can use it.) BP needs to pay up. BP screwed up. BP owes the people damaged by its negligence and incompetence.

But part of that finger-pointing needs to be aimed at the Obama administration, where the buck is in the pocket in the Orchid Office. Once the government sticks its nose into making sure industry complies with government-established rules and regulations, government assumes responsibility. Obama's administration failed as miserably as did BP. The evidence for that is in the reports about Mineral Management Service, and the subsquent firing of Birnbaum. Obama can go on all he wants about how all that started in the Bush adminstration. But, he was supposed to clean it up, and he had the time to do it, and he didn't.

It was a shakedown, pure and simple, in the best politically-motivated Chikaga ward boss style.

It certainly does do away with the inconvenience of due process, doesn't it? The ranchers down around Pinon Canyon better hope that Obama doesn't decide that an expansion would sit well with his voter base in SEIU, UAW, the Teamsters, and the other unions. Think of all those union jobs that a big expansion would bring. Think of all those votes.

BP's dividends account for 1/6th, 17%, of British pensions